According to a new study, antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus become more effective in the months following the administration of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
In terms of absolute numbers, antibody levels did indeed fall over the months following immunization. The latest findings, on the other hand, revealed that antibodies that remained got gradually stronger and more specifically targeted against the pathogen over time.
According to experts at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, even modest levels of antibodies would continue to provide some protection against the original strain of the virus, despite the fact that the virus has evolved.
“If the virus doesn’t change, the vast majority of people who receive two doses of this vaccination will be in excellent health,” said Ali Ellebedy, senior author of the study and an associate professor of pathology and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to him, what the researchers observed was exactly what they would have expected from a vigorous immunological response.
‘We had no idea that six months after that second injection, so many people would still be actively enhancing the quality of their antibodies,’ Ellebedy said in a news statement from the university.
“That is truly extraordinary in my opinion. The difficulty is that this virus is always mutating and generating new forms of itself. As a result, the antibodies are becoming more effective at identifying the original strain, but the target strain is constantly evolving.”
Researchers examined blood samples from 42 participants and lymph node samples from 15 participants. The samples were taken before the participants received their first dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, as well as three, four, five, seven, fifteen, and thirty-nine weeks after they had their first dose.
Bone marrow samples were also collected from 11 participants between the ages of 29 and 40 weeks after their first dose. Eight people each gave one of the three types of samples. Because these eight individuals did not contract COVID-19, their antibody response was solely a result of immunization.
After six months, the researchers discovered that the quality of the antibodies had improved. According to studies published Tuesday in the journal Nature, only 20 percent of antibodies are linked to a protein from the virus immediately after vaccination, compared to over 80 percent six months later.
“When it comes to antibodies, quantity should not be the only thing to consider,” Ellebedy explained. “The number of antibodies at six months may be smaller, but the quality of the antibodies is significantly higher.
This refining of the antibody response takes place on its own without any intervention. Following the shot, your arm may hurt for a day or two before you completely forget about it. However, six months later, your germinal centers are still active, and your antibodies are continuing to improve with each passing day.”
Ellebedy, on the other hand, pointed out that the quality of the antibodies is tested in relation to the original virus that was used to develop the vaccine.
“When a new variety is introduced, everything changes,” Ellebedy explained. “You must retrain your immune system to function properly. It’s similar to updating your anti-malware software to ensure that it’s up to date with the latest computer infections that are making the rounds.
It does not imply that the previous software was ineffective. It simply means that it is no longer totally compatible with the viruses that it will meet.”
In light of this, the researchers are investigating the effects of variant-specific boosters on the antibody response to vaccination.